Does your working life look a bit (or a lot) different to pre-pandemic times?
Whether you’re a WFH-er, happily hybrid or a water cooler regular, times have changed.
And guess what?
Learning & development has, too.
We no longer want – or need – to wait around for our managers to notice our work or suggest a course, seminar or networking opportunity.
After all, only you truly know your career goals, dreams and fears (yes, fears 😱 It’s a safe space, people – we’re allowed to have them!)
That’s why peer mentoring is gaining ground – especially in new and budding businesses. Unlike traditional mentoring (where a junior was paired with someone far more experienced and senior), peer mentoring is about establishing a network of similarly-levelled professionals.
It’s a collaborative environment, where everyone in your mentoring group (around 5-6 in Strivin’s case) offers advice, insights and learning opportunities to one another.
An effective peer mentoring community or partnership will help you:
- Establish a network of well-matched professionals
- Expose you to different ways of thinking and problem-solving
- Positivity impact others
- Increase your confidence (trust us: your experiences have taught you WAY more than you think!)
So, how do you get the most out of peer mentoring? What should you think about before taking the plunge? And where do you even start?
Know what you want
Be like the Spice Girls and tell them what you want.
Your time is valuable: don’t waste it! Get the most out of your peer mentoring sessions by putting in the legwork before. Think about:
🥅 What you want to achieve
Be bold. What do you (honestly) want your career to look like? There’s nothing (read: NOTHING) wrong with thinking big.
🧐Any gaps in your knowledge, experience or confidence
There are probably some pressing ones to tackle now and others that are less urgent. Prioritising them will help you effectively address them when you’re ready.
⭕️ Where your boundaries lie
Be clear about what you hope to take away from your peer mentoring experience. Your peer group (or partner) should do the same, so everyone knows what’s on and off the table. That way, everyone will know what to expect – meaning you can drill down deeper and extract more value from the sessions.
For the love of listening
We’ve all had conversations which are somewhat one-sided (to say the least). Unfortunately, when someone merely tolerates what another is saying until they can offer their own input isn’t actually a…conversation. Frankly, it’s more like a monologue – and a fairly uninspiring one, at that.
Active listening is about really listening – without the intent to reply. It’s not always easy, but it’s a super important part of peer (or any) mentoring.
When you actively listen, you’ll pick up on body language and all those non-verbal cues that really tell you what someone is trying to say.
Turn off your phone, minimise external noise and truly focus on what’s being said. Everyone will benefit.
Want your career mentoring to mean something? Leave any inflexible, prejudiced attitudes at the door.
When you’re open, honest and approachable, you’ll connect so much better with your peers.
By pushing your ego to the side and exposing your vulnerabilities, you’ll get a way more enriching, meaningful and valuable experience. Sure, it might be confronting (it’s lovely and safe hiding behind our armour, isn’t it?) but the magic happens when you’re truly ‘seen’.
After all, mentoring sessions are about improving ourselves – not pretending to be perfect!
The beauty of diversity
Mum was right: the world would be very boring if we were all the same. In fact, it’s cool to embrace our differences.
In the workplace and at mentoring sessions, this means being open to conflicting opinions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with some robust discussion! We’re all shaped by our own unique experiences, backgrounds and personalities – and will approach challenges differently, too.
Considering problems from alternative angles can actually be quite liberating and productive. Not only will you appreciate ideas you may never have considered, you’ll build trust and respect with your peers. And that’s always a positive step in the workplace.
Your career. Your way
Only you can truly take charge of your career.
And, if you’re on the cusp of a management role (or even if you’re not), brushing up on your peer mentoring skills could really take you places.
Get the most out of the peer mentoring experience by being honest, open and committed – and the rest will follow.
Wondering how to kick off your peer mentoring journey? Start here!